Other candidates are Mike Kasperzak, a 14-year Mountain View councilman; Marc Berman, development director at the Silicon Valley Education Foundation and a Palo Alto councilman; Vicki Veenker, an intellectual property attorney and president of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley; and Barry Chang, a Cupertino councilman.
District 24 covers a large area including Menlo Park, Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley.
Elected to the City Council in 2010, Mr. Ohtaki said he is running for the state office because he favors local control over state control, wants to promote entrepreneur- and tech-friendly state policies, and is an advocate for fiscal responsibility.
Mr. Ohtaki said in an interview that during his time on the Menlo Park City Council, he has become wary of top-down, unfunded mandates from the state. An example he cited is the mandate to update the city's "housing element" in the general plan.
He said Menlo Park would have undergone that process anyway during the general plan update, but instead spent a year figuring out how to rezone the city to accommodate an extra 1,500 housing units in Menlo Park. That rezoning process, he said, didn't incorporate other components of planning that are crucial to support new housing, including transportation and schools.
Mr. Ohtaki said he would bring a pro-tech approach to Sacramento. He opposes taxing businesses of the "sharing economy," such as Airbnb and Uber, claiming startups need to reach a certain "maturity" point first.
The state doesn't quite understand or fully utilize Silicon Valley and the tech industry, he said. An example he cited is the state's Employment Development Department, which he said provides resources to job seekers but does not teach them how to use LinkedIn.
He said his experience working as a chief financial officer of a tech startup called NetTV gave him firsthand experience with the challenges of building a startup.
Mr. Ohtaki said he would aim to create a sustainable state budget by using surpluses to fund infrastructure and pay down unfunded pension liability.
Surpluses that are a result of one-time revenue boosts, such as capital gains taxes on tech IPOs, should not be spent on ongoing state programs, he said.
Paying down unfunded pension liabilities, he said, saved Menlo Park taxpayers $3.4 million in interest expenses. Across California, he said, doing the same could save about $60 billion.
Mr. Ohtaki holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Harvard University and an MBA in finance from Stanford University. He grew up in Menlo Park, where he attended La Entrada Middle School and Woodside High School.
He served as the city's mayor in 2013, and was re-elected to a four-year term in 2014.
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